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1915’s Greatest Headline


The Denver Post really reached new heights of journalistic excellence on March 6, 1915 with this lurid story of the problems drug addicts faced now that the federal government had criminalized opiates.


Combined with the white slavery story on the same page, this could not be more 1915. I think the link below works for the whole front page, let me know if it doesn’t.

Denver Post 6 March 1915

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    just the first few paragraphs leave me fairly confident frances wayne could have easily gotten work somewhere in the murdoch empire

    • Mike in DC

      To be fair, his great grandson Bruce is deeply invested in community service.

      • I beat you by at least five seconds.

    • As I tell my students, Fox News is actually the journalistic outfit reflecting the American tradition of journalism. All this claim to objectivity is a relic of the 1950s. Before World War II, pretty much everything was crazy spun into narratives that fit the readers and ownership of newspapers.

      • efgoldman

        All this claim to objectivity is a relic of the 1950s.

        I was only in grade school in the 1950s, but my memory says the “claim to objectivity” got going when Cronkite (and some others) started telling the truth about the Vietnam war, followed by Watergate.
        And I think the more objective sources in those days were the TV networks (and many local stations) because the Fairness Doctrine and other FCC rules demanded it.
        Lots of newspapers (e.g.the Manchester Union-Leader under the Loebs) were just as truthful as Fox today. The Loebs were RWNJs before it was cool.

        • Bruce Vail

          Yes, the the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, introduced in 1949, was very important, as all broadcast radio and tv stations were expected to adhere.

          The TV networks developed the paradigm for ‘balanced’ reporting that was copied by local broadcasters (and a lot of newspapers), not because they thought it was good journalistic practice, but because they thought it was legally required.

          And it would be a mistake to assume that all journalists embraced this development. As a journalism student in the 1970s, I saw a lively debate on the merits of the Doctrine.

          • DocAmazing

            Oddly, that debate is still going on around here; last time the Fairness Doctrine came up in comments hereabouts, many thought that it was a burden on free speech and generally unnecessary in the age of cable. (Speaking personally, I’d love to see it brought back at once and with teeth.)

            • sapient

              Completely agree. The airwaves are a license.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              the fairness doctrine was a burden on free speech? missed that one. how does *that* work?

              • ThrottleJockey

                Because “free speech belongs to those who own a press”.

            • Weed Atman

              Even Lemieux, who I almost always agree with, thinks the Fairness Doctrine is an unconstitutional burden on speech.

          • Weed Atman

            I wonder who came up with the name? “Fairness Doctrine” is positively Orwellian, no wonder it’s so easy for Republicans to propagandize against it.

        • Latverian Diplomat

          Did consolidation among newspapers also play a role? Fewer papers needing to appeal to broader audiences to survive?

  • Frances is Bruce’s grandfather, hence the attitude towards crime and sin.

  • Murc

    I would like to note that everyone who just assumed Frances Wayne was a man got it way, way wrong. “Frances” is a traditionally feminine name, and while that is not in and of itself dispositive, twenty seconds with Google would have confirmed it.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      she might not have fit in as well at fox as i had guessed. first of all she seems to have had a social conscience. secondly she was a redhead, not a blonde

    • rea

      A woman with the byline on the lead story on the front page of a major newspaper in 1915 rather deserves some respect . . .

      • Lee Rudolph


  • KmCO

    Sum’pins happening to me this mornin’….Just a minute. ‘Weeny teeny minute.’

    I kind of wish that newspapers still quoted people so colorfully and accurately. Now it’s just dull paraphrasing, often peppered with [sic]s, or in Miss Francis’ case, something along the lines of The woman then proceeded to babble incoherently.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      the front page of today’s denver daily paper had to be *much* less lively

    • efgoldman

      I kind of wish that newspapers still quoted people so colorfully and accurately.

      When George Kimball, Mike Lupica and Charley Pierce wrote sports for Boston’s counterculture weeklies, they often quoted the players down to the accent. Thus, asked about a bad cal or bad play (I don’t remember which at this late date) Luis Tiant was quoted as saying “Bool-cheat. D’as fockin’ bool-cheat, man.”

      • Malaclypse

        Damn I miss the Phoenix in the 90s…

        • efgoldman

          Damn I miss the Phoenix in the 90s…

          This was the 70s, before Mindich devoured The Real Paper.
          As Pierce himself has pointed out, it’s freakin’ amazing how many really important writers came out of those two papers.

          • And Bill O’Reilly as well.

            • efgoldman

              And Bill O’Reilly as well.

              Yeah, well every bag of potatoes has a rotten one somewhere.

  • So apparently, one reason America jumped into World War One was for its calming, soothing effect.

    • rea

      Well, yeah–it’s amazing how little war news there is on that front page. To be fair, perhaps, none of the big battles were really in progress March 6, 1915, although of course later that year . . .

      • weirdnoise

        Well, the lead headline is somewhat war-related: an ocean liner in the Atlantic ablaze, with a cargo of ammunition as well as civilian passengers, many of them medical personnel.

  • FirstDano

    I must say, they have learned to hide it much better these days. Not only their lurid slant, but often the entire important story (e.g. recently the vote in the Lege to forego dumping the RES



  • Warren Terra

    Sure, seems likely to grab the national title – but remember, in international competition it’d be up against Britain’s tabloids in high dudgeon over the Rape Of Belgium (and some of what they reported was even true!).

  • KmCO

    So Denver’s always had a reputation for drugs, then.

    • Warren Terra

      Rocky Mountain High, and all that.

      • KmCO

        John Denver would have been better off writing about opiates…now that’s a *real* high. Cannabis just makes me feel kinda low, man.

        • Bruce B.

          Sunshine on my shoulders
          Makes me squint and get my shades

  • Darkrose

    Half an hour later, I’m on Wikipedia, reading about the Edmund Fitzgerald through a surprisingly straightforward chain of associations. I love the internet!

    • Halloween Jack

      All that remains is the faces and the names of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

  • efgoldman

    I tried to find some random Boston Globe front pages from 1915. There’s some fun stuff, but it’s subscriber/paywalled. Sorry.

  • Robert Farley

    I can only say that I’m deeply proud to be part of a blog where “This could not be more 1915” doesn’t sound even faintly forced or anachronistic.

    • Turkle

      This is also the draw for a large portion of your loyal readership, myself included.

  • Shakezula

    Wow, they really made their front pages work back then.

  • Roger Ailes

    Lighten up, Frances.

  • Halloween Jack

    The most depressing thing about this is that it’s a hundred years later, and heroin use in rural communities is on the uptick again… because of the criminal penalties for overprescribing artificial opiates, after years of letting the drug companies hawk them to a degree that would have flabbergasted Stringer Bell.

  • rdennist

    Reading some of these stories, I am struck by how similar they sound to today’s wingnut faction. I guess the moral is we’ve been there before and survived.

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